Nigeria now ranks second highest in Africa in terms of the number of new cases of confirmed COVID-19, the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on the coronavirus pandemic has affirmed.
The Chairman of the task force and Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, who disclosed this during its weekly briefing, in Abuja, on Monday, pointed out that the country has crossed the 100,000 mark.
He noted that the number could be more because many people with the infection may have been missed.
Mustapha blamed the spike in the number of confirmed cases of the virus in the country on increased travel, business and religious activities and reopening of schools without strict compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
He said: “In Nigeria, we have crossed the 100,000 cases mark and now rank second in the number of new cases, the 4th in cumulative cases in Africa and 5th in cumulative deaths. Last week, Nigeria recorded over 9,000 cases.
“Realistically, if we estimate the numbers missed, we would be in a much higher region.
“There is no state in Nigeria that is immune to this pandemic even if reports are not coming out of such states.
“It is however very instructive to stress that factors that have contributed to rising in numbers from late November 2020 included increased local and international travels, business and religious activities, reopening of schools without strict compliance with COIVID-19 safety measures.”
He maintained that reports coming in from all over the world show that the COVID-19 pandemic is still wreaking huge havoc on humanity, economies and systems, noting that as at last Sunday, 8th January, 833,496 cases were recorded, representing the highest ever since the pandemic started.
He added: “The three days preceding the 8th, each recorded over 700,000 cases; global cases have now reached 90,676,320 mark; global fatality count is fast approaching the 2 million mark; the global CFR has declined from 2.2 to 2.1%; the CFR for Africa has also declined from 2.3 to 2.2%; and the WHO African region crossed 2million case mark on Wednesday, 6th January 2020.
“The full import of the fore-going is to press further on the need for us all to elevate the level of our vigilance and compliance with the recommended non-pharmaceutical interventions.
“The current wave of infections is swift and virulent and we do not know how long it will last. Besides, the facilities available for the treatment of critical cases remain very limited and we do not wish to be overwhelmed. Your best bet, therefore, is to avoid infections completely.”
The SGF also affirmed that the pilot exercise on the use of Rapid Diagnostic Test-Kits (RDTs) will be rolled out in five tertiary health institutions in Abuja next week.
He opined that the isolation of different strains of the virus is being vigorously pursued, noting that In this regard, the PTF is working with the Africa CDC and the NCDC on the sequencing of the COVID strains circulating in Nigeria.
The PTF boss informed that the task force has continued to receive inquiries about the issue of testing before travelling out of Nigeria, saying that for the avoidance of doubts, the protocol in Nigeria requires inbound passengers to test, not more than 96 hours, before boarding flights to Nigeria.
However, he added, for passengers leaving Nigeria, it remains the responsibility of travellers to confirm the requirements of the country of destination and that of the carrier of choice.
He announced that for inbound travellers, a new protocol on pre-boarding has been released and compliance is still strongly recommended, adding that the additional requirements for passengers coming from the United Kingdom and South Africa also remain in force.
Mustapha said the PTF has advanced the preparation for the management of all aspects of the vaccines discuss, noting that lessons are being drawn from other jurisdictions on the successes and challenges of the vaccine administration.
He said that as the third stream of NYSC members resumes on January 18, the PTF is working closely with the management to ensure that participants are tested and protocols are complied with.
In his remark, the PTF National Coordinator, Dr Sani Aliyu, hinted that the existing curfew may be reviewed to curtail nightlife, which he observed, is contributing to the increase in COVID-19 cases in the country.